WEST CHESTER, PA (April 25, 2010) The Philadelphia Independence earned the first win of the season tonight with a 3-1 victory over the Washington Freedom. In a cold April rain, the Independence came back from a one goal deficit to capture the team's first victory with three consecutive goals.
The Freedom came out strong, controlling the majority of the possession in the first fifteen minutes of the game and looking dangerous on attack. In the thirteenth minute, Abby Wambach managed to put a header in the back of the net, but it was called back due to an offsides call from the sideline referee. It seemed to be a wakeup call for the Independence, as they immediately began connecting and settled into a rhythm.
In the 17th minute, the Independence got their first opportunity off a cross from Rodriguez to Lohman, whose shot was blocked by a Freedom defender. Four minutes later, the Independence got their best opportunity of the half when a ball skipped past keeper Brianna Scurry to find Lianne Sanderson with an open net. Her low shot had Scurry beat but was cleared from the goal line by Sonja Bompastor, who positioned herself well inside of the post.
The Freedom continued to create opportunities on net, and in the 27th minute Cat Whitehill's rocket from 25 yards out required Val Henderson to make an athletic diving save to deflect the ball wide. Henderson came up with another save just minutes later off a volley from Sawa inside of the box. Both teams entered the half scoreless.
A light rain began during half time and both teams came out energized in the second half. The Freedom struck first, putting a ball in the back of the net in the 50th minute. Abby Wambach's cross from the left touchline found an unmarked Lisa DeVanna who finished easily. Wambach has four assists in three games for the Freedom.
The goal lit a fire under the Independence and Amy Rodriguez equalized just three minutes later. Rodriguez brought the ball down off her chest 25 yards out, beating a defender and sending a left-footed rocket past goalkeeper Meagan McCray. The Independence did not stop there, taking the lead four minutes later off a header from Allison Falk. Lori Lindsey's free kick from the right side found a crashing Falk, almost exactly the same scene as last week's goal against Boston.
Lindsey earned her second assist of the night in the 67th minute, cutting the ball back on a defender and sending a cross in to Lianne Sanderson, who scored her first goal of the season off a header.
The Independence managed to hold the two-goal lead, but both teams continued to fight in the final minutes. Another goal by Amy Rodriguez in the 68th minute was revoked for an offsides call. Val Henderson came up with a brilliant save in the 84th, again showing her athleticism to stop a powerful volley from the Freedom's Christie Welsh. Allison Falk and Sara Larsson put an outstanding defensive performance, playing a smart physical game and preventing Abby Wambach from getting any opportunities on goal in the second half. The Independence defense held strong until the final whistle, with the game ending in a 3-1 victory for Philadelphia.
The Independence play at home again in less than a week, hosting fellow expansion team Atlanta Beat again on Saturday, May 1.